Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Meshing business needs and priorities with customer needs and priorities to create shared value

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 1, 2010

Yesterday, I posted an entry: Making Change in the Customer Experience Good, and How Well-Intended Change Can Be Anything But, and in the course of writing it I made an observation that I want to follow up on and clarify.

• “Web design when viewed from at least one of its more significant angles, is a process of organizing functionality and content that would meet the web site owner’s needs into a layout and form that will meet the site visitor’s needs.”

I can readily imagine a voice of disagreement in this with a countering contention that if format and layout should be focused on the customer and their needs, content and functionality should be too. In a fundamental sense that is true, but if that is the only perspective taken, where does consistency and clarity of vision and mission come in for the business, and where does it find centering balance in its strategy and operations, and in being a unique defined source of customer value in a specific defined product or service area?

I wrote the above yesterday with a delicate but important balance in mind, that the business offering a web site be true both to itself and to its customers, and with the dual sense of goals and priorities that this entails. Good business strategy and operations serve to keep these potentially contrary perspectives aligned where the business’ core marketplace goals mesh tightly with the needs of the customers who would go there. Great business strategy and operations take that next step in envisioning and creating new market opportunity and truly unique value proposition that will more fully meet customer needs and preferences than any current competition can come close to. This is where blue ocean strategy comes in.

But looking back to yesterday’s posting for a few extra words in its direction, change, whether in small and incremental, evolutionary stages or in larger and even market creating revolutionary stages has to be customer focused to be good – good for the customer and good for the business that would serve their customers’ genuine needs.

When businesses fall into the trap of making and investing in bad change, that is not from willful decision to override customer needs with a more self-centered self-interest. It is from a failure to keep these dual perspectives aligned. In one sense this could be seen as an argument to simply blame Marketing and market analysis, but ultimately any significant failure of this sort takes a concerted disconnected effort from the top and from the entire strategic team.

• Look for failure to gather or value incoming data that might disagree with the perceived wisdom from the C level offices.
• Look for an over-reliance on the meaning and decision-making weight of past and legacy performance.
• Watch out for a failure in communication where new and perhaps contrary insight is viewed as suspect, and where voices are at the very least self-censored to limit possible dissent.

Yes, I am laying out a strategy if you will, for creating real opportunity for investing in bad and even corrosively destructive change. I am also writing of a developing need for change management. Ultimately, bad change comes more from bad organization than anywhere else, as good organizations well run and based on good, effective communication usually catch the bad ideas and identify them as such before they can be acted upon.

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